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Dry Shade Planting

October 1, 2015



We regularly try greening up the back lane that runs behind our terrace of about 30 houses. It feels more vital than ever since double yellow lines were imposed on us recently but with less traffic and more plans for substantial planters and plants it’s not all bad. With that in mind and feeling a need to have my regular trawl of Poundland for good garden gizmos I came back with two possible containers….


I’d been thinking of buying plastic pots but at £12 for a decent enough size I am more than happy to experiment with these at a pound a go.  They may not withstand too much hauling around when full  (compost is amazingly heavy) so I filled them in situ with  a mixture of garden soil and commercial compost. One was planted with Pittosporum tenuifolium plus six Geranium macrorhizum that I divided up from the garden…


The other was planted with eight clumps of Luzula nivea which I know from experience survives in near total shade. I added Aquilegia, Lamium and Arum italicum all lifted and divided from the garden …


The back lane gets the sun for about three hours a day in summer and the plants will need to rely on rainfall so I’ve researched more plants that will survive in these conditions. The following herbaceous plants will do well: Alchemilla mollis, Astrantia, Dicentra, Geranium himalayense and Pulmonaria. More substantial shrubs such as Fatsia japonica, Prunus lauroceranus, Skimmia all thrive in dry shade so we might build up these at a later date.

The potato planter has a flap in one side through which the soil spills out whereas the tomato planters are solid. So I’ll get those next time and both containers have drainage holes in the base and should last for a couple of years. I’ll continue the experiment with some of the dry shade tolerant plants mentioned above.

The September scented plant I’m enjoying in the garden here is Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ which opened its flowers ten days ago. It should remain in flower well into winter and has a lovely perfume not unlike baby powder.


This week the flowers are  re-cycled hydrangeas from last week and freshly picked Cosmos ‘Sensation’ plus the leaves of pineapple sage…


4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2015 4:25 pm

    I can testify that Fatsia japonica does wonderfully even in very hot dry shade, I have two in pots by the front door under the wisteria so quite dark shade in summer, there is another one under the mulberry and another behind the multi-stemed Melia. They received very little water all summer (those in pots were watered once a week) and are growing well. I like the idea of the tomato planters, well done!

  2. October 1, 2015 4:32 pm

    Great thanks for that confirmation.

  3. October 2, 2015 8:55 am

    What a great idea for greening up the lane … Also a good tip, I’m working out how to overwinter nursery plants to sell on NGS days next year but have run out of space in the beds, this post reminds me I do have a couple of builders bags full of composted bark which might solve the problem. Thank you!

    • October 5, 2015 2:53 pm

      That’s a good use of builder’s bags rather than letting them go to land-fill. We will steadily build up the plants at the back of the house here and I have just bought more tomato planters.

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